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Kiwanis Miracle League ready for action again

June 9, 2021 | Metro Sports Report

Miracle-League-2021

The players in the Kiwanis Miracle League have waited more than a year to take the field at Prospect Meadows again, but the time has finally arrived.

The 2021 season begins Saturday morning.

There will be four games on Opening Day at 9 a.m., 10 a.m., 11 a.m. and noon on the special Miracle Field. The 2020 seasons were wiped out by the pandemic, but most of the families are comfortable and confident that it’s time to play ball.

Sixty players signed up for the league last year. Some families have decided to wait a little longer before getting involved, but more than two-thirds of them have enrolled for this season.

“We have 41 out of our 60 players who have decided it’s safe enough,” said Byron Tabor, the league director and a Kiwanis Club member. “They’ve done our safety protocols and are comfortable in coming out to play.”

The Kiwanis Club has made a few changes to the program for safety precautions. There will five players on each team instead of 10, all of the buddy volunteers on the field will be family members, fans will be asked to bring lawn chairs and avoid the bleachers, and everyone on the field will be wearing masks.

“We’re trying to trim the crowdedness of the games a little bit,” said Tabor. “If you want to watch our games, bring a lawn chair.”

The Kiwanis Club members and families were disappointed they could not play last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Enrollment had climbed from 40 players in Year 1 in 2019 to 60 for last year before dipping again this season.

“We had six teams  of 10 players apiece lined up and ready to go last year and couldn’t do it,” said Tabor.

Now there will be eight teams with five players apiece, which will make for quicker innings and a faster pace. Every player will bat once during an inning, then teams will change sides. Each game will last 50 minutes.

The Miracle League is for children and young adults with disabilities. They have their own field at Prospect Meadows, with a rubberized surface and easy accessibility.

The age range is normally 21 and under, but the directors made an exception this year for a young lady who is now 22. She wanted to play last year when she was 21, but the league was canceled.

“Last year would have been her last year,” said Tabor. “We’re going to be like the NCAA and grant her an extra year of eligibility, just like Jordan Bohannon from the Hawkeyes.”

Tabor thinks wearing masks is a good idea, whether it’s legally mandated or not. “I’m not sure it’s 100 percent necessary at this point, but we’re going with it,” he said. “I hope it works. It’s not quite as scary outside as it was last year.”

The Miracle League is sponsored by Kiwanis Clubs, Prospect Meadows, Minor League Baseball, the Cedar Rapids Kernels, Green State Credit Union and Perfect Game. All the players will be wearing replica Major League jerseys for the Cubs, White Sox, Twins, Cardinals, Twins and Royals.

The players and families have been allowed to pick the games and starting times that are most convenient for them, so you could see Cubs, Cardinals and White Sox players on the same team.

“We’re calling this our All-Star season,” joked Tabor.

Metro Sports Report